Achilles tendinopathy affects athletes, recreational exercisers and even inactive people. The pathology is not inflammatory; it is a failed healing response. The source of pain in tendinopathy could be related to the neurovascular ingrowth seen in the tendon's response to injury.
The achilles tendon tends to get lesions on the anterior portion of the tendon, where there is not much blood flow. Correctly place acupuncture needles can directly affect this portion of the tendon. Electrical stimulation of those needles directs the body to clean up the injured tissue. Tight or knotted calf muscles can also contribute to chronic achilles problems. If the calf is involved, adding acupuncture needles in the motor points of the gastrocnemius and soleus group. We call this type of needling anatomical acupuncture which we use in combination with Chinese Medicine's Channel Theory. The achilles tendon is on the Tai Yang channel. In Chinese medicine the tendons are the tissue of the "liver" system which corresponds to "wood." Tendinopathies are a problem with "wood." I also used the wood points on the Tai Yang channel to support the treatment.
My treatment plan was treatments bi-weekly for three weeks, with the understanding that she would not stop running during the course of the treatment. My treatments included electroacupuncture, motor point acupuncture, gua sha therapy and tui na massage. After the first treatment, she reported no pain for the remainder of the day. This lasted for almost two days. After the second treatment, she was able to run with out pain. While it is exciting to have results, this was a dangerous time. The danger with acupuncture treatment is that it often reduces the experience of pain. Pain is an important message from the body. It lets us know when there is an injury that needs care and support. If we don't get the message that there is an injury, but the injury is still there, it can be tempting to overuse the body.